Nearly all businesses have been impacted to some degree by the COVID-19 pandemic. With unemployment in both the United States and the European Union having reached record levels in recent weeks, the economic consequences of the crisis continue to reverberate far and wide across the global economy.
And while a number of firms and businesses – Avature included – have managed to successfully transition to a full capacity “work from home” model, recent layoffs highlight the especially precarious nature of contingent employment in these extraordinary times. Given the transient, per-project model of the modern gig economy, it’s no surprise that contingent workers (i.e., 40 percent of the global workforce) were the first demographic to truly feel the financial squeeze of social distancing and shelter-in-place orders.
And yet, what is rather startling – particularly from a HCM perspective – is the sheer number of top-tier, expertly skilled and highly specialized contingent workers that are now suddenly swimming free in the open ocean of the gig economy.
In any crisis, it’s both easy and understandable to focus on mitigating losses in the here and now. Nevertheless, the COVID-19 crisis, like all crises, will eventually subside. Hiring freezes from March and April will thaw, and top firms will again be in need of highly skilled contingent workers with subject matter expertise. Considering that 77 percent of CEOs see the availability of key talent as the biggest threat to their business, now is the time for Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and Recruitment Process Outsourcers (RPOs) to preemptively get ahead of demand with respect to contingent labor sourcing.
This article will provide a high-level overview of two, ROI-driven best practices optimizing contingent recruiting (i.e., developing and optimizing talent pools) while we patiently wait for the post-COVID-19 contingent worker boom.
Let’s take a look.
Best Practice #1 – Develop a Robust Talent Network
Given the competitive nature of contingent hiring, top-flight consultants tend to be selective when it comes to where they work and when. And yet, recognizing that contingent workers have fewer options than normal as a result of COVID-19, MSPs and RPOs should take advantage of the lull in hiring and look to streamline their sourcing efforts by directly sourcing contingent labor.
Gone are the procurement department spreadsheets and paper-based workflows of yesteryear.
With the right technology, organizations can build beautifully branded portals (i.e., talent networks) that act as candidate magnets, keep talent pools engaged and encourage the best workers to come back in the future and apply for new projects/positions. With the ability to create profiles, apply directly and set minimum requirements for availability and compensation, organizations will find candidates empowered with a degree of buy-in typically reserved for the traditional labor force. And, perhaps most importantly, this empowerment doesn’t only extend to contingent workers – a modern SaaS solution can empower organizations (i.e., HR and procurement) to use candidate preferences and skills as match parameters to advertise and promote relevant projects.
Accenture, active in over 120 countries and 40 industries as one of the world’s largest professional services organizations, achieved 20 percent savings per contractor hired as a result of working with Avature to develop a direct sourcing contingent labor strategy.
Looking to modernize their contingent worker sourcing workflow while matching the strategic, meticulous and detail-oriented mentality of today’s top contingent candidates, Accenture and Avature combined forces to create the Contractor Exchange Marketplace. Candidates can now quickly filter, search and apply for the contractor role of their choice all while receiving a comprehensive, sustainable and targeted recruiting experience focused on both engagement and re-engagement. Rather than sadly bidding au revoir to top-tier candidates once projects are finished, Avature allows Accenture easily optimize their contingent workforce management workflows to easily tag and re-engage the best consultants via their talent network portal, even as they are offboarded.
With over 100,000 portal users and 500,000 visits since the marketplace portal launched in March 2018, Accenture now has an effective, GDPR compliant, external sourcing solution built to meet the demands of contingent recruiting in the digital age.
Best Practice #2 – Humanize Sourcing Communications
Now, more than ever, it’s crucial for organizations to focus on developing effective and value-driven sourcing communications.
Remember, the goal is to build a relationship with contingent workers – to engage, nurture and keep them coming back to your talent network/marketplace for more. Although there are a number of contingent workforce management strategies available for organizations to utilize in their efforts to convey their initial value proposition, it’s important to keep in mind the circumstances in which most contingent candidates are likely to find themselves: recently unemployed, feeling rather desperate, hiring freezes in full effect. Given the lack of open and available positions for most candidates, “value” will need to manifest in the form of empathic, concise and compassionate communications – something beyond the industry standard for a “feeler” email or introductory LinkedIn message.
It goes without saying that we have all faced some degree of social/professional/familial isolation throughout the last few months. And, in our yearning for a return to normality, most of us have come to depend on technology – from Zoom calls, to memes, to Tik Toks – in an effort to humanize our quarantine experiences. Communication strategies for contingent workers in these unprecedented times should be no different, and MSPs and RPOs will be well-served to take note. Successful contingent recruiting will hinge on an organization’s ability to humanize and diversify both the substance and delivery of their candidate messaging. In this respect, a robust contingent workforce management solution goes a long way.
The right platform can, for example, empower an organization to engage in truly personalized contingent worker communications at scale, moving beyond first/last name variables to industry, project and expertise-specific personalization. With projects few and far between, communication campaigns should focus on providing contingent workers with skill development opportunities (i.e., free courses, certifications, learning hubs, etc.), while strategic social media messaging can both raise awareness and extend organizational reach.
With a shift away from face-to-face meetings and in-person evaluations, those organizations capable of preserving the human touch as communication efforts move entirely online will be well-positioned to grow their talent networks with top-tier candidates – even in the midst of the current hiring drought.
Avature is Here to Help
Early 2020 has certainly been tough for stakeholders of the gig economy. And yet, with the right technology and a proactive approach, RPOs, MSPs and contingent workers will all be well-positioned to come out of the COVID-19 crises ready for placement.
Discover the elements of contingent worker sourcing in greater detail, as well as some additional best practices for implementing our cutting-edge approach to contingent workforce management in our free e-book, Leveraging a Total Talent Strategy. And remember, we are always here to help. Don’t hesitate to contact us for additional support in these trying times.